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Can I Activate A Phone I Bought off eBay? (Answered!)

can i activate a phone i bought off ebay

A bargain was spotted, and the trigger pulled.

Giddy with your mobile device purchase, it’s only in the aftermath that you stop to wonder:

“Can I activate a phone I bought off eBay?”

Because what good would a phone be, if you couldn’t use it?

Thankfully, any phone purchased on eBay can be easily activated so that you can place phone calls, send texts and use the device’s many other features.

The activation process differs for each carrier, but the steps are straightforward and the settings are usually pretty similar across all types of devices.

By following the below advice, you should have a perfectly usable phone in no time!

Since all contracts with a former carrier are cleared when purchasing a second-hand phone, unlocked phones are easier to transfer to other network providers.

But even if the phone you bought is locked, don’t worry! This article will provide all the information you need to get it unlocked and activated ASAP.

How Do I Activate A Second-Hand Phone?

How Do I Activate A Second-Hand Phone

The first step to activating a second-hand phone is to sign up with your preferred carrier.

The phone will receive no service until it is connected to a cell carrier, Wi-Fi or a cell tower.

The following steps will show you how to activate a second-hand phone:

  • Use your existing account to activate the phone. Your preferred carrier’s website should offer options to either “Activate own device,” “Switch to own device” or “Bring your device.” Click on the correct option and follow the instructions;

  • Since network carriers differ, you must ensure the new device is compatible with your preferred provider and usage plan. You’ll need to sign in online with the phone ID to confirm that it’s compatible;

  • The network carrier will then send you a code to enter on the screen. This helps the carrier verify that you are the legitimate user;

  • After the verification process, it’s time to check your SIM card. Visit your carrier’s website, enter your SIM ID number and follow the instructions that appear on screen. Try logging into the carrier’s app if you’re unable to access its website;

Your phone will activate once you complete all of the steps that the carrier requires!

 However, if it still isn’t working, try calling the carrier’s customer care service. They will request information about your SIM card and other details about your phone in order to help you get up and running ASAP!

Can You Buy An iPhone off eBay And Activate It?

Can You Buy An iPhone off eBay And Activate It 

Yes, you can buy an iPhone on eBay and activate it pretty easily!

When you acquire an iPhone from eBay, follow these steps to activate it:

  • Insert your SIM card into the slot on the right side of the iPhone;

  • Turn on the phone;

  • Several startup messages will appear on the screen once the phone powers on. Follow these instructions that appear on a screen;

  • Select a network. A Wi-Fi connection would be the ideal to use for this set-up;

  • Transfer any data saved in your mailbox to your new phone. If the mailbox does not offer an option to backup, proceed with the next step;

  • To complete your phone activation, you will need the IMEI number. If the number isn’t on your phone’s package, dial *#06# to get it;

  • Lastly, visit your carrier’s website to complete the activation process.

The steps are easy enough to follow, but you can always call them if you get stuck!

Since eBay is an online marketplace with different vendors, here’s a brief shopping guide to get a good quality phone:

  • Carefully read through the phone’s listing. If it lacks some crucial information about the phone’s quality and capability, that’s a big red flag;

  • Check the vendor’s profile to ensure they have a positive seller rating

  • Purchase from a vendor that offers a 30-60 day return warranty. This is a necessary safety net in case the phone develops any kind of fault;

  • Buy from a vendor who has sold a large number of units;

  • Verify that the phone is fully functional before you make the purchase.

Do You Have to Pay to Activate an Unlocked Phone?

Do You Have to Pay to Activate an Unlocked Phone

No, you don’t have to pay to activate an unlocked phone! Activating an unlocked phone is free. The only things you’ll pay for are the phone and the SIM card.

However, unlocked phones do not have a carrier so you will need to get one under contract.

However, the lack of a carrier means you can easily change an unlocked phone from one network provider to another by changing out the SIM card (as it is the SIM card that determines your phone’s network).

Unlike the option of paying interest-free installments when buying an unlocked phone from a carrier, buying from eBay generally requires paying the full price all in one go.

Therefore, it’s very important to ensure the phone is compatible with your preferred network service before buying it.

Fortunately, vendors usually mention in the sales listing if a phone is unlocked. You can confirm this yourself by inserting a SIM card that’s different from your phone’s current carrier.

If it connects to the network without any trouble, the phone is unlocked!

Still, it helps to know the unlock policies for the various phone carriers:

Verizon: Phones only unlock after 60 days;

Sprint: Phones must be active for at least 50 days before they can be unlocked;

AT&T: The phone unlocks after 60 days of activation if you purchase it in installments. However, the contract must be completed before the phone is unlocked;

T-Mobile: Phones can be unlocked within 40 days of activation after all payments are complete and all contracts on the phone cleared.

What Should I Do If I Bought A Locked iPhone?

What Should I Do If I Bought A Locked iPhone

If your second-hand iPhone is locked, don’t worry; there are solutions available!

iPhones are locked by either iCloud or by the network. If the phone is locked by iCloud, you’ll need to ask the previous owner to disable it by erasing the phone’s memory.

If you know you won’t be able to reach the previous owner, it is best not to buy an iPhone before double-checking that it is no longer active on iCloud.

iPhones on network lock must also be unlocked before they can be used.

In these cases, you’ll have to contact the network directly and submit your complaint before they will unlock an iPhone- though there’s no guarantee a network will unlock the device.

Thankfully, you can apply other third-party methods when unlocking an iPhone. A few of these methods are explained below:

Tenorshare 4uKey

Tenorshare 4uKey is a software program that you can use to unlock any iPhone.

First, download the software onto a PC, and then connect your phone to the computer and permit it to download the firmware.

Once the download is successful, a popup will say “Unlock now” or “Start to remove”.

Click on it to start removing the iPhone’s old password. The software will then ask you to choose a new password. The phone will then be successfully unlocked.



Hold the side buttons on your phone simultaneously to place it into Recovery mode. Connect your iPhone to your computer with the iTunes app using a cable.

When “Restore” appears on your phone’s screen, tap on it and iTunes will erase everything in the phone.


Log onto iCloud with your Apple ID, select your iPhone, and click on “Erase” to unlock the device.

In Conclusion

eBay is undeniably a great site for buying premium second-hand phones. 

While the platform itself is legitimate, many users still have issues with activating and unlocking second-hand iPhones purchased on eBay.

In response to the question, “Can I activate a phone I bought off eBay?” The answer is a definite Yes!

If you have recently bought a phone from an online marketplace, try one of the methods in this article first before taking it to a store and potentially paying a costly fee.

Whether it’s an iCloud lock or a network lock, these steps will hopefully help to guide you in the right direction when it comes to activating your phone.

The latest smartphone technology got you feeling amazed? Click HERE for a deep dive on the State of the Smartphone in 2022 (and beyond!)

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